The recent arrest of a top Chinese tech executive at the Trump administration’s request seemed certain to provoke a geopolitical showdown pitting Beijing against Washington. The detained executive is a daughter of one of China’s most admired business leaders. She helps run a company, Huawei, at the center of a global race to dominate the next generation of telecommunications technology. And her arrest, widely viewed inside China as a direct affront, comes at a time of already pervasive suspicion among the Chinese public and leadership that the United States wants to block China’s rise through a trade war.
Yet seemingly against the odds, Beijing decided to take a measured response to the Huawei incident. The Chinese leadership has compartmentalized the situation as a law enforcement dispute while making concessions on trade to help defuse tensions.